Child Protection & Volunteer Guardians ad Litems

It hurt me to see no mention of Minnesota’s hundreds of volunteer CASA guardians ad litem in Susan Miles’ Child Protection article in Friday’s Star Tribune.

I’m all for paying people for hard work and especially those working with troubled children and families.

Volunteer guardians come from the heart of the community, they do their work solely of concern for abused children & take fewer cases than paid guardians.

Fewer cases means they can be more involved with the child and family. Paid guardians need to handle 25 sometime 30 cases – most volunteer CASA guardians only take a few.

State Ward children have commented many times to me that I was different because I was the only person from the County not being paid to be with them. This meant something to them.

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Child Protection and Appreciating Social Workers (we really should)

Christopher Sorenson recently wrote a compelling piece in the Star Tribune about animal safety as the foundation underlying our current child protection system and how only extreme cases of child abuse make the news or public awareness.

Speaking of service providers Chris writes; “On a daily basis these folks see what none of us wants to see – children being destroyed by neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and …, Our dirty secret in Minnesota and in this country is the abuse and neglect of children that continues each and every day”.

He points out how hard social work is and how stressed employees in a high-pressure and overburdened system do very difficult work under tight deadlines for modest pay. I would add; and with far too resources to get the results needed for the children they are working with. Turnover is high.
20,000 two-year olds were proscribed psychotropic medications in 2014 and millions of terribly abused 3-10 year old children took those drugs without adequate therapy and suffered greatly because of it. Ddrug companies were fined billions for selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on children. Millions more abused children were ignored after being reported to child protection services in this nation.

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Child Protection in Arizona; 12,000 Cases Ignored For 60 Days or More

Since January of 2015 nearly 40 Arizona children have died after the Department of Child Services had been notified (some with multiple reports). Nationally, it appears that Arizona is not alone in being unable to protect its most vulnerable citizens. This report capsulizes child protection news across America for March 2016.

The meanness of our politics now includes abandoning children for way too many of us. Become a CASA volunteer in your state & show up once a year to stand for children’s issues at the State Capital to tell your legislators to vote for child friendly initiatives (if you don’t – who will?)

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Child Protection News – Your State Here (Texas and Florida are tied once more)

Medical News Today – October 09, 2014
More than half of federal and state prisoners are parents of nearly 1.5 million minor children, and one-fifth of prisoners have children under the age of five. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to have witnessed criminal activity and/or the arrest of the parent, both of which have been shown by researchers to have unique effects undermining children’s socio-emotional and behavioral adjustment. Also: Empowering Our Young People, and Stemming the Collateral Damage of Incarceration: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/10/08/empowering-our-young-people-and-stemming-collateral-damage-incarceration Information Gateway Resources: Children in Out-of-Home Care With Incarcerated Parents: https://www.childwelfare.gov/outofhome/casework/children/incarcerated.cfm
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/283562.php?tw

US: Childhood psychological abuse as harmful as sexual or physical abuse
EurekAlert! – October 08, 2014
Children who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar and sometimes worse mental health problems as children who are physically or sexually abused, yet psychological abuse is rarely addressed in prevention programs or in treating victims, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-10/apa-cpa100814.php

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Child Protection News (gathered nationally – find your state here)

–CA: Drugging Our Kids

San Jose Mercury News – September 20, 2014
Children in California’s foster care system are prescribed unproven, risky medications at alarming rates.
http://webspecial.mercurynews.com/druggedkids/?page=pt1

FL: DCF was alerted 2 weeks before deadly rampage
Bradenton Herald – September 22, 2014
Two weeks before Don Charles Spirit annihilated his family, Florida child protection investigators were told that his grandchildren were surrounded by drug abusers – living with a grandfather whose history included the accidental killing of his son, and the physical abuse of his daughter and grandkids.
http://www.bradenton.com/2014/09/22/5373515_florida-dcf-was-alerted-2-weeks.html?rh=1

MN: Gov. Dayton orders changes to Minnesota’s child protection programs
Northland’s News Center – September 22, 2014
Governor Mark Dayton ordered the Department of Human Services Monday, to take a closer look at how child abuse cases are investigated. Also: Abuse case drives Dayton to order county child welfare reviews (Includes audio): http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/09/22/gov-dayton-plans-measures-to-combat-child-abuse
http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/news/Gov-Dayton-orders-changes-to-Minnesotas-child-protection-programs-276397681.html

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Child Protection News Gathered Nationally (find your state here)

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ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

Most of our news for this page (300 + articles) is gathered from;

Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any view expressed in an article, and opinions or views do not reflect those of Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children’s Bureau, or staff. Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/subscribe

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CA: Overmedicating Children in Foster Care
Los Angeles Sentinel – May 28, 2015
On any given day, nearly one in four children in foster care is taking at least one psychotropic medication — more than four times the rate for all children.
http://www.lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=15298&catid=85&Itemid=175

CO: Hickenlooper gives strong defense of CDHS chief
Colorado Statesman – May 28, 2015
Gov. John Hickenlooper this week lauded Colorado Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha and his staff as being “among the best in the United States” after an overwhelming majority of lawmakers recently blasted Bicha’s job performance.
http://www.coloradostatesman.com/content/995720-hickenlooper-gives-strong-defense-cdhs-chief

CO: Guest Commentary: Retool administration of Colorado’s social programs
Burlington Record – May 25, 2015
A letter signed by more than 80 lawmakers and sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper earlier this month calling for leadership change in the department at first glance appears understandable given the performance issues of programs housed in CDHS.
http://www.burlington-record.com/guest-columns/ci_28200513/retool-administration-colorados-social-programs

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Child Protection Oversight Committee Meeting Nov 23rd

It hurt me to hear it suggested that Brandon Stahl’s reporting on Child Protection in Minnesota is somehow a cause of the troubles within the system today. It is precisely the lack of reporting, accountability, and access to information that has grown our child protection failures to where they are.

The thing missing from last night’s Child Protection Oversight Committee meeting was the voice of someone that experienced child protective services (to put a human face on the conversation) and a fearless front line worker or CASA guardian ad-Litem to describe the depth and scope of the issues on the table.

People speaking in a roomful of professionals find it difficult to use the words or employ a passion that puts urgency and humanity into the facts that rule the fabric of our community and the lives of at risk children.

We also avoid topics that can’t be dealt with in our current institutional paradigm.

When Dee Wilson delivered the report on the Casey Foundation’s investigation of Child Protection to the County Commissioners he referenced the fact that St. Joe’s Home for Children was the primary resource for the most troubled children entering Child Protective Services.

The Foundation reported that the home was not able to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems it is forced to manage on a daily basis.

The truth underlying Dee’s statement needs to be recognized as the tip of the iceberg it is (we don’t).

The Foundation reported that the home was not able to deal with the level of trauma and behavioral problems it is forced to manage on a daily basis.

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Child Protection, Kendrea Johnson & The Information War

Kendrea Johnson’s social worker was unaware that Kendrea’s mental health provider knew this six year old girl was severely mentally ill and having daily thoughts of suicide and homicide.

Tannise Nawaqavou, Kendrea’s foster mother didn’t know either. No one told anyone that this six year old girl wanted to kill herself (and others – she had twice threatened to kill her foster mother with a screwdriver).

As a long time Hennepin County CASA guardian ad-Litem, it hurts me to see policies in place that insure not the best interests of the child, but the best chance that people will never know about the terrible things going on in the lives of abused and neglected children. We do this to foster and adoptive parents all the time and it has to stop (it is dishonest). The intensive therapy needed by traumatized children is simply beyond the ability of average people (most foster/adoptive parents – note the privacy laws referred to by child protection in Brandon’s article above).

People (like the psychologist from Pennsylvania (below in read more) quoted in today’s article*) that don’t believe suicide happens to six year old’s just don’t have a clue.

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Child Rape & Sex Trafficking – Church vs. Family (stories & statistics)

It is good to know that someone is advocating for raped and trafficked children.

If not for the research, reporting and press about priests molesting children, there would not be much attention or understanding of the trauma suffered by sexually abused children or their numbers.

It’s not clear how many children have been abused by priests in the U.S. these past 20 years, but a reasonable guess might be 50,000 to 100,000.

Using the higher total of 100,000 children abused over 20 years by priests means that about 5000 children a year have been molested annually.

Statistically, this number is a tiny fraction of the sexual violence & trafficking done to American children in their own homes by family members and caregivers each year.

Between 63,000 & 400,000 of the 7.4 million children reported abused in America each year have suffered sexual violence. Of the 50 children I helped remove from toxic homes as a volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem, about half of them had suffered sexual violence. One as young as two, several that were four and the rest under ten when their abuse started.

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Child Safety Legislation in MN (a small effort can make a big difference for abused children)

Safe Passage for Children of MN helps at risk kids get a voice at the State House. A phone call – an hour of your time at the Capital could make a huge difference this year.to make children safe. A very small investment of your time could change laws and do wonders for abused & neglected children.
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

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Child Sex Abuse & The Mormon Church (stopping child abuse requires adults report it)

KoalaThis article from an abused child about the Mormon Church hiding abuse her was another sad and eye opening look into how hard it is to achieve transparency and accountability in children’s rights issues.

 Join KARA’s Facebook Page   ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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Child Sex Abuse & The Most Powerful Suicide Note Ever (Bill Zeller from 2011)

This is the longest and most powerful and articulate suicide note I’ve ever read and it has great meaning to me for its power to relate these two incomprehensible sorrows (abuse & suicide).

I could not read Bill Zeller’s last letter without feeling the terror, physical and mental impediments, and daily reminders of his childhood nightmares and adult confusion and suicide.

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Child Sex, Child Mortality, Education, Prozac & Guns (how we value children)

America’s long running fight against sex education has brought our nation the low honors of having the highest STD rate in the world and the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world. We have lots of 13 year old moms with violent boyfriends, drug habits and no parenting skills in our nation (it’s really hard on the children).

North Carolina doesn’t screen teachers = 3 years of abuse for a child & a 30 year prison sentence for the offender.

America’s sex industry thrives of foster children and many states still blame the 13 year old sex slave for a crime.

Our infant mortality rate has been off the scale below other industrialized nations for many years and violence against children fills our newspapers and media airwaves. Add to that the under-reporting of child abuse – the three million reports represent 12 million abused children every year not the six million calculated by including the 150 million families with 0 to 2 children.

U.S. children and teens are 17 times more likely to die from a gun than their peers in 28 other industrialized nations and 32 times more likely to die from a gun homicide

American newborns are also dying because they are sent home with drug addicted mothers. 20,000 two year olds were proscribed psychotropic medications in 2014. Both Johnson and Johnson and Glaxo Welcome paid billions in fines for illegally selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on children (and there are thousands of cases pending. 1/3 of America’s foster children are medicated by Prozac and other powerful antipsychotic drugs.

We also expel more children from daycare and early childhood programs (for violence and behavior problems) than any other nation.

Child protective services are under appreciated, under trained, and under resourced in almost every state with little understanding by state legislators about the core issues. These problems will not improve until we have begun a more open and honest conversation about them.

Euphemizing and obfuscating keeps people from getting too upset (or involved).

I challenge you to read just halfway down on last month’s sad stories page and share it with at least one other person.

After all, things could change if somebody starts talking about these critical children’s issues(why not you?)

All adults are the protectors of all children.

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Child Sexual Abuse, Alcohol, & Help

Sexual abuse is likely the most horrific crime a young child can endure.

Almost 10% of children today are exposed to sexual abuse; from rape, incest, pornography, touching, fondling or sodomy.

According to the Childhelp organization, the most common ages that child sexual abuse acts are committed are ages 7 to 13.

Within child protection systems, these percentages are much higher and the children’s ages are lower when the abuse begins.

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem in Hennepin County, about half of the fifty children in my caseload were sexually abused. After almost 20 years as a County volunteer in child protection, I think it is the most under-reported crime in our nation.

Six million children are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S. each year. About 10% of them receive services. The other 90% are left to fend for themselves.

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Child Suicide, Prozac, Child Protection, and Foster Care (and how are they related?)

More American children (especially low-income and foster care kids) are on antipsychotics than in any other country (Governing magazine March issue).

Brandon Stahl’s March 27th Star Tribune article graphically explains how child protection was unable to deal with mental health, medications, and child safety be in the suicidal hanging

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Child Suicides – what’s left unsaid

After all these years of Prozac and drugging of children with mental health issues and so little access to mental health services, it’s refreshing to see students and their petition for improving these services in the schools.

Thank you students at Mounds View and Hopkins high schools for speaking out and your effort to create a more compassionate and safe atmosphere for troubled youth.

When child suicides make the news (today’s Star Tribune article), there is a gaping hole where failed suicide attempts and other self harming behaviors of children should be accounted for and reckoned with.

State Ward children so often have dangerous lifestyles – self harming and even life threatening behaviors that we don’t speak of and no one knows but a few people involved in these tragedies.

When foster child Kendrea Johnson hung herself the County Corornor stated that six year old children just did not have the mental capacity to execute a suicide successfully (he called her death an accident – she left a note).

The Star Tribune’s chart showing 5-14 year old children as a tiny part of child suicides would be dwarfed by including their attempted suicides, cutting and other self harming behaviors.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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Child Suicides & Self Harm Stories & Statistics (a hidden public health crisis)

Please share this with teachers, law enforcement and social workers in your circles

Current literature reporting included below

What to do when a six year old climbs out the window of your kindergarten classroom threatening to jump three stories to the concrete below?

What do you say to a seven year old girl with scarred arms that is obviously cutting herself repeatedly with a knife or razor?

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Child Summit

Managing child protection cases, she said, “means one judge, one family. It means you don’t [delay] these cases because someone is sick. You don’t make a kid wait in foster care three months while we tend to adult problems. It means that when parents leave the courthouse, they have a written notice of the next court hearing and a written case plan so they’re not wondering what the judges meant.”

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Child Trauma & Torture, May 2018, find your state here (6)

Iowa sees spike in confirmed child abuse cases
Seattle Times
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials say publicity around high-profile child abuse cases in Iowa has caused a surge in such reports. Confirmed child …
Iowa sees spike in confirmed child abuse cases – WRAL.com

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Child Trauma Academy Newsletter

Symposium on Child Trauma in the Public Sector: May 31 – June 1, 2012

“Many children experience stressful events that challenge their coping resources. Some children experience a single harrowing event or multiple adverse events which impact their development and their behavior. Everyone whose work brings them into the lives of children needs to understand the latest research and policies regarding child trauma.”

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Child Trauma and Abuse; A Quick Study & Resources

Few of us understand the lifelong impact trauma has on a child and fewer still the depth and scope of generational child abuse in America today. This KARA page provides basic information and the critical elements that you & your friends and neighbors need to know for trauma & abuse to be reduced in your own community. Share it widely.

All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children

Send us your favorite resources (we will post those that fit)

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Child Trauma and Torture Reporting for July 2018 (part 5)

KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and attention to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

This reporting is only sampling of what should be reported – the great majority of child trauma & abuse is never known.

37% of children overall and 54% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18.

(American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

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